EXCL Suspended Lewisham East Labour chair Ian McKenzie: I do not believe Isis should kill Emily Thornberry

Posted On: 
22nd May 2018

A controversial Labour chairman today apologised for a string of tweets that saw him suspended from the party and insisted: “I do not believe Isis should kill Emily Thornberry.”

Mr McKenzie has long been a hate figure for left-wing activists in Lewisham
Credit: 
PA Images

Ian McKenzie said the past comments that saw his membership put on hold were “taken out of context” and his views “badly misrepresented”.

The former aide to Tony Blair has also been forced to stand down from his new job as an aide to Rokhsana Fiaz, the newly-elected Labour mayor of Newham.

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It comes after he backed Janet Daby to win the Labour nomination for the forthcoming by-election in Lewisham East.

She managed to defeat Sakina Sheikh, who had the support of Momentum, and the Unite-backed Claudia Webbe, to win the coveted candidacy.

In the wake of the result, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn shared a number of tweets Mr McKenzie made in the past.

In one, from 2016, he said: “Emily Thornberry is too old for Isis. They won't make a sex slave of her. They'll behead her and dump her in a mass grave.”

And in another he said: “Maybe she'd agree sex slavery to one man only, provided he didn't sell her on or insist on gang rape.”

In a statement today, Mr McKenzie said he was trying to “show the absurdity of negotiating with these murderous misogynistic barbarians”.

“The tweet does that. I wasn’t advocating sex slavery, but condemning it,” he explained.

On 2016 reports that Jeremy Corbyn was hinting at wanting to negotiate with Isis, he added: “Emily Thornberry is at an age at which she would be selected by ISIS to be killed. I said so.

“I stated a fact that is disputed by no-one. I did not advocate, nor joke about, Emily Thornberry’s killing, but the very opposite. My tweet was a deadly serious condemnation.”

Mr McKenzie blasted Isis as “disgusting murdering misogynists” and condemned any attempts to negotiate with the barbaric regime.

And he said: "I do not believe that ISIS should kill Emily Thornberry, or kill anyone, and believe it is very clear I have never said I did."

But he added: “I’m truly sorry that I caused this to happen. “I hope that this unfortunate conflagration can be swiftly ended and that I may be able to go back to doing what I do best: asking people to vote Labour.”

A Labour source confirmed to PoliticsHome that Mr McKenzie had been suspended from the party pending investigation into the tweets.

He has long been a hate figure for left-wing activists in Lewisham after organising to keep pro-Corbyn group Momentum out of the constituency party structures.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of abuse and discrimination extremely seriously.